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  • Writer's pictureAndrew

The Snare Drums of Owl Shed Studios

Hi! Andrew here! I thought I'd pen this cheeky wee guide through the snares we commonly use at Owl Shed Studios (click here for info on the drum kits) and let you know our thoughts on them, what we like them for and some video examples so that you can get a feel for them to, prior to coming in to record! All are Mapex, as I am a Mapex Global Artist and a) artist rates are damn sweet and b) they're damn good snares! These snares are;

14 x 7 Phatbob (maple)

14 x 6 Atomiser (aluminium)

14 x 5.5 Metallion (brass)

14 x 6.5 Persuader (hammered brass)

14 x 6 Predator (copper)

Each one of these snares is gold. They're all wonderfully versatile instruments that can allow a player to sound like them and as such, will sound as good as a player makes them sound. That being said, they all have little specialties and variations that set them apart from each other. I will explore these differences with you in this here blog post!

All examples shown are without samples, so it's all natural, baby! What's the point of demoing a snare only to show audio and video where the thing is buried in samples? None. Exactly? Jack mixed all of these examples too, which helps real nice. It's also how I know there aren't any samples!

Let's start with the newest to the studio, The Predator - 14 x 6 Copper!

I got this snare in early '22, from the recommendation of Richie Martinez of Arch Echo and Simen Sandnes, touting its incredible sound. Curiosity got the better of me and I pulled the trigger! So far, it has mostly been on the road, firstly with Azure and then with King King. It's only recently returned to the studio (as of March '23) from KK backline storage as the new King King kit is yellow and I felt the copper didn't look as good with it (that and I missed it!). I've swapped it out for the Persuader (more on that later!) as it is black and looks peng with the yellow.

Anyway! The sound? It's dark. Real dark. Not low pitched but dark. It's like a moody steel shell, if that makes sense? It bites like a wolf but in that bite there's a certain huskiness to it which I love it. It lends a real full bodied character when it's tuned higher and in lower tunings, just sounds proper round and doofy. A snare with a lot of character but not so much that it limits its versatility. A live and recording favourite! My first shout for metal and heavier stuff!

Please enjoy below a real lovely example of it, with the wonderful folk of Azure!

Next up, let's take a look at our 14 x 6 aluminium snare, The Atomiser!

Looking at the list, you might be thinking 'only one wood snare and four metal ones? wtf?'. Well, this is where the Atomiser steps in, saying 'get you a snare that can do both'.

The Atomiser, to me, provides the best of both wood and metal worlds. It has the dryness of wood but the bite of metal. It had been my main touring snare with KK for quite a while, before the Predator stepped in. I got to know the drum pretty well during this time and absolutely fell in love with it. It works incredibly across a whole spectrum of tunings, offering a really wide set of characteristics and vibes. It's not often my first shout for metal and heavier styles as there are one or two others that offer a little more aggression right off the bat but for less in-your-face styles, it's phenomenal.

I describe it as quite polite - it says what it needs to, is concise and gets out the way. It is absolutely second to none for that low tuned retro thing, I've found - because it's metal, there's still just that wee bit of resonance that keeps it from sounding like a wet cardboard box down a microphone. Tuned up, it does a wildly good dry funk thing. An invaluable addition to the arsenal!

Next up, our wee brass pocket rocket the 14 x 5.5 brass shelled Metallion!

This snare is like the Atomiser on drugs. It does all the same stuff the Atomiser does well but with a little more vim. A bit more hype. Given that it is shallower and made of brass, its pitch and general timbre is higher and brighter. This snare comes out for a lot of rock, funk and music that straddles style and does a lot of genre hopping, especially within one track. At lower dynamics, it has a lot of the politeness and subtlety of the Atomiser but when hit harder and activated more, there's access to more biting and present sounds - this made it the go-to snare for a lot of the Regressor stuff and for a lot of Azure stuff. It's not an overly aggressive snare - it isn't a hammer, I don't think. Like I say, more hypy - if the Atomiser is the clean cut businessman - professional and concise, drinks expensive cocktails but never to get drunk - then the Metallion is his cocaine addled colleague in sales - he's still got a suit on and can look put together enough to not get chucked out the bar but, at all times, you know exactly where in the room he is. Mostly because he's louder than everyone else.

I couldn't decide which example to post of the Metallion, so I did both - enjoy!

If the Metallion and the Atomiser are both in the bar, enjoying varying degrees of inebriation, the 14 x 6.5 hammered brass Persauder is the bouncer. My absolute first call when loudness, presence and aggression are needed. It does lower dynamics very well - The Persuader in lower tunings gives the Atomiser a right run for its money - but where it truly excels and stands apart from the others is when it's tuned medium/medium high and then hit rly hard.

You've heard the sound of this snare before - it's construction is pretty much Matt Halpern's old signature snare except with a hammered shell and less venting. Chuck a heavy, dry head on here, beat it like it owes you money and you have instant Wraith - really modern, heavy sound.

As mentioned earlier, this snare has been tapped to be the new King King touring snare, so likely won't be in the studio an enormous amount in the future, unless I buy another in, which I may well do! Until then, The Predator will be it's slightly classier cousin in studio!

Last but far from least, the 14 x 7 maple Phatbob!

The only wooden snare of the bunch! This guy sits somewhere between the Persuader and the Atomiser, oddly enough. It's made of maple, so it's darker and drier than most of the metal snares but also the shell is quite thick so there's a good amount of presence and aggression available, if you'll hit it hard enough. Think the type of 'pop' you'd get from a lot of early 2000s radio rock and nu-metal. The Phatbob does that amazingly. It's also the depth of a shallow floor tom so if you're looking for a country song 'DOOF', this truly is your drum. The Atomiser is a little more Anderson Paak/Snarky Puppy 'doof'. Phatbob is Taylor Swift 'doof'. They're close to each other but far enough away to have a distinction.

The example below shows it in a more rock setting - its middle ground. Another area it excels at! It had been the first snare I got when I started my relationship with Mapex - I'd bought it on the grounds that for King King, it would work across dynamic and tuning ranges to suit the varying styles and demands of the live show, right down low in a shuffle or proper going for it, aiming for 127 backbeats. I was right - it did this beautifully! I'm uncertain it ever did see a stage as the Atomiser came along shortly after and did that job but then just a little better, having a bit more resonance being a metal drum.

So that's them - the snare drums of Owl Shed Studios! I hope that this wee tour gives a good feel for the variety on offer at the studio!


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